Megyn Kelly’s turbulent two-year run at NBC News is over as both sides reached an agreement on Friday night on her exit from the network.
Terms of her departure were not disclosed, but people familiar with the negotiations said the former morning show host is leaving with the money she was owed on her contract, which is said to be about $30 million (Dh110.1 million). Kelly is free to work for an NBC competitor.
“The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC,” a representative of NBC said.
The split follows 2 1/2 months of negotiations. The exit talks commenced after the TV news personality caused a furore with remarks she made on her now cancelled show ‘Megyn Kelly Today,’ in which she defended the use of blackface as a Halloween costume.
Kelly apologised for her remarks, which were condemned online and on the air by NBC News colleagues. But October 24 was her final day on air as the host of the 9am hour of the ‘Today’ franchise that carried her name.
‘Today’ regulars, Al Roker, Craig Melvin, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones have taken over the programme’s third hour, which has seen its audience grow since Kelly’s departure.
Kelly’s relationship with the network had deteriorated in recent months as ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ lost viewers and brought negative coverage and reviews. The programme had difficulty attracting big-name celebrity guests after Kelly made actress Jane Fonda uncomfortable with a question about her plastic surgery during her second day.
NBC News made a big bet on Kelly becoming its next signature star. The division poached her from Fox News in January 2017 with an annual salary reportedly in excess of $20 million a year.
The news division also took the extraordinary step of putting Kelly’s name in the title of her hour of the ‘Today’ franchise. That has happened only one time in the programme’s 67-year history, when it was called “The Dave Garroway Today Show” in 1960. Garroway was the programme’s first host and one of television’s earliest superstars.
Kelly stumbled right out of the box for NBC when she tried a Sunday night prime-time magazine in the summer of 2017 that was intended to rival CBS’ vaunted ‘60 Minutes.’
The programme failed to draw audiences and generated controversy as well when it used breezy promos and social media posts to promote a segment on Alex Jones, the right-wing internet provocateur who espoused the false notion that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut was a hoax created to stir sentiment for stronger gun laws.
Kelly gained prominence at Fox News Chanel, where polarising opinions and provocative views are a strong draw for audiences. But the conflict-driven conversation she specialized in was at odds with the feel-good atmosphere of morning television.
Kelly tried to show a softer side on ‘Megyn Kelly Today,’ by featuring human interest stories and presenting segments on food, consumer advice and health. When she was promoting her new programme she proclaimed she was “done with politics,” even though that was what brought her to prominence at Fox News.
Despite her attempts to adjust her image, the host appeared to be most engaged when discussing provocative news topics on ‘Megyn Kelly Today,’ especially the #MeToo movement. While she earned kudos for providing a platform for harassment victims, she began to rankle ‘Today’ colleagues when she aggressively pursued segments on the sexual misconduct allegations against fired ‘Today’ co-anchor Matt Lauer and the news division’s elder statesman Tom Brokaw.